Wow! I had a really great time last night meeting both some (English-speaking) foreigners living here in Romania as well as some Romanians who have been to the United States (and other foreign places). Quite a different mix than I’m used to, that’s for sure.
I wish I had some photographs but alas, I don’t own a camera. I know some pictures were taken and if/when I get them, I’ll definitely post them here for all of you to see.
Once again I had the amazing privilege of seeing people read my book and then tell me their opinion of the material – that is always just an amazing thrill. Since these people had all been in Romania for a while, they certainly knew a lot of what was in there and it was great getting their feedback.
And is there a better compliment to receive than “I read this hilarious passage [from your book] out loud to my spouse”? Sosul awesomenessului :)
It was also a great chance to me to socialize with a totally different group of people than I normally do.
I guess I should rewind and start from the beginning. Sometimes I forget you all of you reading this website can’t peer through the screen and see what my daily life is like.
In my “online life” I definitely spend most of my time reading and writing in English. I read a number of websites in English and certainly 99% of my writings online are in English. I communicate online via the various ways (Facebook, Twitter, etc) mostly in English as well.
And yet as soon as I shut off the computer and head out of my apartment, it’s straight into a completely different world. I speak Romanian and spend my time with Romanians (and Hungarians, etc). There have been times where I’ve literally posted a long article (in English) here and then walked out of my door and immediately began chatting (in Romanian) with my neighbor.
That’s just kind of how it evolved – English at home and on the internet and Romanian everywhere else in the “real” world. That was how I learned to speak Romanian, by actually living here and not being cloistered in an English-speaking bubble.
Not that I’m pointing my finger at anybody – English is my native language and it’s great to just talk it without having to modulate my accent or pronunciation. If I had moved to Romania with another English speaker I’m 100% sure I’d still be struggling with basic Romanian. We all learn the languages we speak, not the ones we read or hear.
So last night was a strange twist for me – walking outside of my door and for a few hours be immersed in a “real life” English-speaking bubble. I heard everything from Russian to Scottish to British to Australian “accents” so it was a real treat for me.
Plus there’s just something cool about meeting people who – totally unbeknownst to you – were out there all along, going through quite similar experiences (including coming to Romania for the first time and knowing NOTHING about this country). I even got to meet two Romanians (who had never met before last night) that strangely enough had both worked in the same profession in the same city in the United States.
For those of you reading this that were present last night – it was great meeting you! Definitely can’t wait to hear more of your stories about your life here. Absolutely a great bunch of people, “foreigners” and Romanians alike.
Oh, did I mention the best part? People came to the meeting with an enormous quantity of books to exchange. Books in English! For free! For someone like me who doesn’t like TV/movies that much, books are my “drug” so to speak. Jackpot!
If you’re in Cluj and interested in meeting me and/or practicing your English, the website for the meetings is here. Looks like there’s something similar going on in other cities as well. Definitely recommended!